becoming infinite

always learning. always growing. always lifting heavy things.


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9 weeks out – finding the drive.

today was the first day of a new, 4-week training block. i really enjoyed the last one, and i feel like my back and shoulders gained some strength and size. since it was a four day split i also enjoyed a little more flexibility with my three off days Рi rock-climbed a few times, did some metcons, and once or twice just grabbed a platform after work and did some hang cleans to work on power and speed (my elbows, and really everything, are the opposite of speedy).

this past week didn’t go quite according to program. the girl i’m very much in love with and i called it quits; i’ve been sad as hell about it. it was the strangest, most loving break-up i’ve ever experienced, but i’m still so sad that it’s hard to move sometimes. and on monday i had to have a little surprise oral surgery, which led to more melting down because (a) i hate the dentist ANYWAY, (b) i wanted my mom, and (c) i now have a big-ass hole where my molar used to be.

so with all of that on my mind, i had a hard time hitting it in the gym with my normal energy. plus, my training partner and i haven’t been able to coordinate schedules all week so we both flew solo monday and wednesday.

but nothing is ever perfect. training schedules can’t be followed 100%, all the time. meal plans can’t be followed 100%, all of the time. i got in there and put in work, even on the day when i was still bleeding from aforementioned big-ass hole in my mouth¬†or the day where i laid in pigeon bawling while i was doing my post-lift mobility.

but today i hit my projected squat opener for two triples. so there’s that.

 


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there’s no crying in powerlifting!

i’m currently sitting in the airport, waiting to catch a 7am flight for a speedy day trip. since friday is the day i usually squat with my coach, we moved my session up to last night. which meant skipping wednesday’s rest day and doing thursday’s double instead.

even with my right quad still a little rough around the edges (i’m unbelievably thankful that our boss at the gym bought one of these for the trainers to use/me to sneak when the trainers aren’t using it) Week 3 of STV had me feeling great. my body fat is dropping and im putting on noticeable size in my shoulders and width to my back.

last night i showed up at 8pm to squat. we had been doing sticking point/1.25 squats for the past three weeks. to start Week 4 of STV we were going back to, as my coach calls it, “R.A.S.” – Regular-Ass Squats.

warm-ups felt good and we jumped from open bar to 95# to 135# without a problem. less than a year ago my max squat was 130# – i was waiting for the day when i could squat wheels (the 45s). now that’s my second warm-up after open bar work.

we hit 165# for a triple and it felt super, super solid. i belted up and we hit five triples at 185#. everything felt light and fast, i’m getting much better at driving into the bar and keeping my chest up, and i’m actually (finally!) getting some decent bounce out of the hole.

i looked up and caught myself in the mirror as i was getting under the bar and had to squint for a second. i look so different from the person i’m used to. my shoulders are significant, my quads are the kind you grow when you move heavy weight regularly – aka, feet apart, thighs together! – and my arms don’t hang at my sides any more because of the width of my lats.

never in a million years did i think i could look like this. never in a million years would i have imagined i would be standing in a fancy gym on a thursday evening putting almost 200# on my back and moving it around for easy triples.

and i am so grateful. sometimes i think about this sports and how much it has brought me and i get that little flutter in my chest and hitch in my throat like i’m about to cry out of sheer happiness.

five years ago, yoga saved me from myself when i was grasping at straws to finally get my eating disorder under control and out of my life.

two and a half years ago, running saved me from the avalanche of grief after my mom died.

and now…i don’t know what powerlifting is saving me from, but it’s sure doing something.


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sit in the suck.

as some of you may or may not know, i am a wannabe crossfitter. i almost joined a box last january, as a “something else” to add to my half marathon training. but then i got a ticket in florida that cost 3 months’ worth of crossfit, so i abandoned the idea. and then 6 months later i connected with my coach and the rest is powerlifting history.

i was watching the crossfit regionals this weekend and event 6 is a monster: 50-calorie row, 50 box jump-overs, 50 deadlifts, 50 wall balls, 50 ring dips…and then back down again. 21-minute time cap.

i turned on the live feed at the tail end of one of the men’s heats. only 2 men in the north central region actually completed the damn thing, to give you an indication of how brutal it was. no women in north central finished; stacie tovar was the only one to even make it back on the rower. but anyhoo, while watching one of the men complete the workout, as he was on the rower just tearing away, the absolute pain reading all over his face, one of the announcers said, “he is in the pain cave right now. and with a minute left…all you can do is sit in the suck.”

the hardest skill – and yes, it was a skill! – for me to wrap my head around in DBT was radical acceptance. the idea that sometimes…shit’s gonna happen. and there’s nothing you can do to change it, so you just…sit in the suck.

i think about the weight gain that came with recovery. i fought it for years – “well i can still be this weight and recovered…ish…” – because i couldn’t accept that my mental ‘ideal’ weight wasn’t one that was healthy for my physical self. and when i did finally come to terms with that…well there were still days where i would quite literally not leave my dorm room because i couldn’t stand the thought of putting my physical self out in front of people.

see also: it sucked.

when my mom died i tried so hard to be brave, to be strong, to be graceful. and i think i did an admirable job of being, in some capacity, all of these things. but sometimes, some days…you’re just walking down the street drinking a diet coke and you get slammed by a wall of sadness and all you can do is plop yourself down on the curb and cry.

and it sucks.

i try, really i do as it’s against my cynical nature, to look for the good in things. but the fact is, sometimes things just plain suck. and you you know what, sometimes it feels good to fight it – sometimes i just need to raise hell and be angry, and maybe i am banging my head against a wall but you can’t be graceful in the face of adversity all the time, right?

there are parts of recovery that just plain suck. most parts are great; some parts suck.

losing my mom…well, saying it sucked doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.

and sometimes, you have to just embrace it. embrace it and sit in the suck.

 


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730.

two years ago tonight, my mom passed away.

in every person’s life, there are moments that become benchmarks – from that moment on, you look at everything in terms of “before” and “after.” my mom’s death is that moment for me.

seven hundred thirty days. how quickly and slowly it passed.

the ripple effect around my mom’s death was shocking. i lost my relationship. i lost family members who were more interested in developing a conspiracy theory than being supportive. i missed what became my last opportunity to see my grandmother alive and well.

two years later, all of these aftershocks still exist in one form or another. and today, of all days, i wanted to really sit down and think about how i can make the third year without my mom the most meaningful yet.

i didn’t make New Year’s resolutions. but i am making Third Year promises.

i promise to finally let go of people who make my heart heavy. nobody can take up space in my heart without my permission; i’m freeing up room for more love by getting rid of those who i have allowed to stick around and breed sadness.

i promise to continue doing what makes me happy and what helps me be the best version of myself possible. if that includes a diet people think is weird, so be it. if that includes lifting heavy things until my calluses rip and i have a weekly post-squat zombie shuffle, who cares? and if that means that inexplicably out of the blue i’m just really fucking sad one day and really miss my mom and grandma, anybody who can’t handle that can just flip right off.

i promise to give myself a break. my mom was always trying to get me to rest, to take a day or even just an afternoon off. this is my last semester of coursework (EVER!!) and it’s important to me that i keep things in perspective. balance. breathe. enjoy.

and with that in mind…i have also contracted a head cold/the plague, and since today is also conveniently my rest day i shall be spending it doing just that: resting. this choice is also aided by the fact that i am so sore i can barely move!

if anyone needs me, i’ll be buried in blankets, scrolling the interwebs for some good keto-friendly recipes and making playlists for my return to the yoga studio tomorrow.

 


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how to heal during the holidays.

two years ago, on christmas day, my family spent the day at my grandmother’s house. she had bought eggnog and kept telling us to drink it, she had bought it especially for us; finally my dad buckled and poured himself a glass. he took a huge gulp…and proceeded to launch his 6’5″ self across the living room straight to the kitchen sink, where he spit out his eggnog and made a lot of dramatic gagging noises.

“ma, the eggnog’s bad!” he says, still spitting (so dramatic!). then he picks up the carton to check the expiration date.

“ma…you bought EGG-BEATERS!”

at which point my mother started laughing so hard she fell off of the ottoman.

this is, without a doubt, one of my favorite family holiday memories. maybe i remember it so vividly because it was damn funny. but maybe, retrospectively, i’ve clung to it because less than two weeks later, my mother was dead. suddenly and inexplicably, just five days into the new year.

now my grandmother is gone too. i actually told this story in the eulogy i gave at her funeral this summer.

my mother loved the holidays. she loved baking, making candy, she loved giving people things just to see their reactions. on thanksgiving night we would all sing “it’s beginning to look a lot like christmas” on the car ride back from my cousin’s house, and mom would put her favorite christmas CDs on pretty much non-stop from then until december 25th.

while i was driving home from campus today i saw a few houses with lights out, even an SUV with christmas bulbs strung through the cargo rack on its roof. and try as i might, i cannot find it in my heart to be excited for the holidays.

ever since mom died, christmas has done nothing but make me so goddamn sad. and now that i don’t have grandma, either, it’s like the hole in my heart is magnified.

i want to be excited, to enjoy the holiday spirit, to feel that little buzz of excitement you get when you know something wonderful is waiting just around the corner.

but i hear bing crosby singing “white christmas” and all i can hear is my mother singing along. i see baking supplies in bulk and on sale and i’m flooded with the smells of mom’s candied walnuts, fudge, and trays upon trays of cookies. i see trees and garlands and decorations and i think about how my grandmother dubbed me “santa” and bought me my own hat when i was a kid, and i was in charge of distributing the gifts on christmas eve since i was the youngest and had the most energy.

when i went home this summer i packed that hat, along with the ornaments my mom made and all of her recipe cards, in one of my bins of things to keep when we sell the house.

i want the holidays to be a time of love and laughter. but two of the three people i love the most aren’t here any more, and somehow the holiday season seems to augment that void. which means that instead of singing carols and baking cookies and decorating a tree…i kind of want to curl up under my covers and not come out until spring.


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how making weight reminded me that weight is bullshit

last weekend i competed in my first powerlifting meet (and tied a state record bench and broke the state deadlift record, but that’s another post or another time). for those of you who are unfamiliar with how the sport works, there are three lifts – squat, bench, and deadlift, in that order – and you get three attempts at each. there are technical standards you have to meet with each lift, and you can compete raw (as i do, which means the only “equipment” you may use is a belt, knee wraps to squat, and wrist wraps to bench) or equipped (bench shirt, various other fancy suit-like things).

you also compete in weight classes.

the idea with weight classes is that it is to your benefit to be at the very top of yours. ie, i compete as a 56kg lifter. so when it comes time to weigh in, i want to be 55.9kg, not 53.5. which means that a lot of times you train at a higher weight than the weight at which you compete – in the weeks leading up to a meet you just cut out the extra weight.

now if you’ve been following along my little blogosphere, you may recall that i don’t own a scale. and i have not, in fact, owned one for several years. to be honest, one of the best parts about recovery was ditching the scale completely.

then my weight became something to be aware of, conscious of. i bought a scale, set it to kilos. i had to weigh 56kg or less on the day of my weigh-in in order to compete in the weight class we were aiming for.

the tuesday before weigh-in i weighed 58.5kg. i was panicking, texting my coach in a flurry. he kept telling me it would be fine. i was drinking tons of water (and peeing every ten minutes) to saturate my body with fluid; we readjusted my macros for the week so i was pushing tons of protein and keeping my carbs low. i watched my weight inch down. into the 57s i went. then on thursday night, i stopped drinking completely.

friday morning i woke up and was 56.1kg. i peed two more times that morning, drove to the venue after i taught my sophomores, and weighed in at 55.3kg.

the point of this isn’t to wow you with my ability to excrete fluid. it’s to make everybody step back and look at this objectively. i lost 3kg – that’s nearly 7lbs – in three days. i was eating six-egg omelets and what seemed like entire chickens every day. i was teaching and going to class and doing homework. i didn’t lose body fat – i lost fluid. that number – the number so many of us at one time or another get tied to, chained to – was nothing more than a gauge of how much i peed.

so yea, i lost about 5% of my body weight in less than half a week, and you know what? it doesn’t mean shit. i went home after i weighed in, drank a liter of pedialyte and some gatorade, ate waffles and eggs for lunch and had a whitefish sandwich for dinner, and weighed 58.5 kg the next morning as i got ready for the meet.

i’ll say it again: weight. is. bullshit.

the entire week was almost like passing through the looking glass to that mythological place where weight really is just a number. for the past few years it hasn’t even been that for me – if somebody were to ask me my weight, i would have given them a ballpark 15-pound range. i was that divorced from my weight. and that served me beautifully. but for that week leading up to the meet, i found myself at the center of an odd little experiment. my coach knew exactly what was going to happen, how the fluid would affect me, but i was in awe of the whole thing.

there was no attachment – this number didn’t mean anything. how could it, if it was so fickle as to be swayed so drastically simply by drinking a lot of water and cutting out pop-tarts for a few days?

i was the same person, the same athlete, the same perpetually awkward panda on friday, at 55.3kg, as i was 18 hours later on saturday morning at 58.5kg. the number didn’t change anything. because, as i’ve made clear, that number means nada.

i’m up to my eyeballs in a sport that i love. a sport that suits me, that is challenging and scary and exhilarating. a sport that celebrates strength and size, where somebody telling you that you have huge quads (which happened to me yesterday) is a day-making compliment.

i also happen to be competing in a sport with weight classes. and my first experience with “making weight” finally taught me what three dozen doctors and therapists spent a decade trying to get through my head: weight. is. bullshit.


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i’ll leave the light on.

i can’t adequately sum up my two weeks at home/my grandmother’s funeral/how i feel being back in lexington. but i’ll hit some highlights and thoughts just the same.

  • i firmly believe, now more than ever, that people reveal their true colors in times of duress. the thing is, though, it’s not when they’re the center of the distress; it’s when they’re one or two circles removed. that, i have found, is when you see somebody for what they’re really worth. so they offer the person/people most affected comfort and support? or do they freeze them out, minimize the situation, or try and make it all about them? i saw a lot of that these past few weeks, and it was really sad and disappointing.
  • my dad and i went through our entire house and decided what we’re tossing, what we’re donating, and what we’re putting in storage until the cabin is built. it was difficult to go through mementos and things that had belonged to my mom. i kept one of her sweatshirts, all of the christmas ornaments she made, and a stuffed puppy i found that had one of those customizable sound recorders. i squeezed his ear and i heard my mom’s voice saying “i woof you!” i think i cried for a solid hour after that one.
  • between running a baby smolov jr. on my squat for the two weeks i was home, and driving 2000 miles in fourteen days, my hip flexors waged war. i went to my PT to have them scraped today and the bruises that are forming are horrific. i would show y’all a photo, but being all up in my hip joint is not appropriate for the interwebz.
  • i brought back tons of stuff for my apartment. tomorrow morning instead of lifting i’m going to make coffee and unpack/organize. and it will be glorious.
  • i definitely need to have a tooth pulled and the clinic at the university that offers cheap dental care because it’s done by DDS students doesn’t open until the semester starts. so until then i’ll be eating on only one side of my mouth and trying to not aggravate the issue by poking at my gums and generally behaving like a kindergartener picking a scab.
  • i cannot wait to see my dad and my uncles again.

i’ll be back to my regular blogging randomness shortly!